In Feb. 4 Issue
Russell County has seen a a rise in meth busts in recent weeks and the Kentucky Narcotics Officers Association is helping draft a prescription bill that could make it more difficult to purchase pseudoephedrine, a common decongestant that's used in the making of the addictive drug.
Just last month, the Kentucky State Police released last year's methamphetamine lab statistics saying that numbers of the labs were "soaring."
More than 700 meth labs were discovered in Kentucky last year, an all time high for the state, and increased 60 percent over 2008's figures.
The production of meth in the state had fallen after a 2005 law went into effect requiring that purchases of pseudoephedrine tablets be made at pharmacy counters.
State police said this "pharmacy log" statute had an immediate effect by "substantially reducing meth labs in the state by 50 percent over a three-year period."
But with the 2009 numbers rising, this prompted a further review into how ingredients for the potent drug are obtained.
The recent development of a quicker, more efficient method for producing meth, called the "one-pot" or "shake-and-bake" method can also be looked at as one reason the drug's popularity is again on the rise, according to local authorities, who have been in on several recent local meth busts.
This method leads to a great deal of pressure inside the container and can easily cause an explosion, experts say. The mixture of toxic ingredients in this process results in a chemical reaction which changes the pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine.
Advocacy groups are now saying that prescriptions should be required to purchase over-the-counter pseudoephedrine, which is used by cold and allergy sufferers in such medications as Sudafed and Claritin-D. Nearly 15 million Americans use pseudoephedrine medication, according to national statisitcs.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is against the aforementioned proposal saying that requiring prescriptions will delay availability to these such medicines and increase the cost of such products to consumers. The association wants to pay for states to install electronic tracking systems to detect and stop excessive purchases, according to national reports.
To make methamphetamine, pseudoephedrine is mixed or "cooked" with several other chemicals that then become flammable and can explode.
The medicines used to make the addictive drug can still be purchased in full at pharmacies, albeit in small amounts, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA's goal is to eliminate meth labs nationally but will have to fight an uphill battle, of sorts, to reach that goal.
Nationally, cold and allergy patients already show identification and sign pharmacy logs to buy controlled portions of medications that contain pseudoephedrine.
The DEA says drugmakers still send people to numerous pharmacies to make portioned purchases of the needed ingredients.
California and Mississippi are considering bills to require prescriptions for medicines with pseudoephedrine and several Missouri towns have passed prescription ordinances, national media outlets reported this week.
Oklahoma also plans to increase electronic tracking to detect excessive pseudoephedrine purchases.
Oregon is the only state that requires prescriptions for pseudoephedrine products.
State police say that if you suspect someone is making meth or you encounter a meth lab, call 1-800-367-3847. Callers can remain anonymous.